This week marked two major anniversaries in US history - the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. Unless you spent the week under a rock, you've been inundated with video clips and interviews, musings about how the event shaped the country, and speculation galore of how different our lives would be if the event never happened.
But this begs the question - aren't our lives shaped continually by millions of events which are outside our control? True, some are momentous ones, like the delivery of a speech which encapsulates a national mission or the murder of a young, charismatic leader. But I'll go out on a limb and say that as individuals, we should be more focused on the events and actions that are within our control. Small events sparked by our own choices may seem insignificant, but they shape our daily lives at least as much as huge national events.
On a daily basis, we can choose to engage in individual acts of generosity or stinginess, to behave in a way that is cruel or kind. We can offer the gift of friendship or we can turn our back on loneliness and need. We can lend or withhold encouragement and support, and we can speak our mind in the face of injustice or we can keep silent and allow injustice to reign unchecked.We're intelligent people; we understand how our behavior affects someone else and in turn influences their behavior ... and that it spreads from there like the proverbial ripples in a pond.
So my wish for all of us as we begin preparations for Thanksgiving is this: May we live well enough that one small act of ours might result in thankfulness in someone else. And may that person pay it forward and pass it on.